Travel and packing tips

INTERNATIONAL MISSION TRIPS

A FEW REMINDERS AS YOU ARE LOOKING AHEAD

Make sure you bring your Visa/MasterCard with PIN (only numbers) if you want to withdraw money. ATMs here do not charge a service fee, but your stateside bank might. This is the best way to get local currency and the method nationals use. ATM’s are readily available and usually offer good exchange rates.

Notify Visa/MasterCard that you will be traveling to Europe. Otherwise, they might place a security block on it once you start making purchases here.

Don’t bring travelers’ checks. Very few banks here will accept them. Few if any merchants will accept them. Plus there is a service fee to exchange them.

Don’t bring American money in denominations larger than $20s.

Bring good walking shoes.

Dress in layers for the cooler days. Expect rainy days.

If you need wash-clothes, you might want to bring them. European hotels do not provide them.

Check with your doctor about using Ambien, or some other good sleep aid.  It can help tremendously with jet lag (coming and going.) Melatonin helps some to sleep.

Be prepared to pay 30-40 euro cents for using public toilets. There are few free ones.

TRAVEL TIPS

Travel lightly—what you pack, you carry!

Limit the amount of valuables you take overseas. Ask the question, “Can I live without this?” Sentimental or favorite items should be left at home.

Clean out your wallet of non-essentials. Only take necessary identification or credit cards with you. Keep a record of credit card numbers with the telephone number of the credit card company separate from the actual credit cards. Also, keep traveler’s check receipts separate from the actual checks. The companies will need to be notified immediately if the cards or checks are stolen.

Travel with a prepaid telephone card from a major company. Quite often prepaid cards will cost less per minute than your regular long distance card even if they are from the same provider.

Men should carry their wallet in a front pocket to hinder pickpockets. Women should carry their bags in front of them. A zippered closure improves security.

Money belts are a safe and convenient way to carry identification and valuables.

Always carry a copy of your passport photo page with you for identification.

Many bags look alike, so each piece of your luggage should have a highly visible tag or sticker on it that separates it from similar bags at a glance.

Do not leave bags unattended. Hold all bags tightly in a crowd. Unfortunately, there are people who make a living, seeking to steal other people’s personal belongings.

If you have a layover in an airport and want to sleep, put your bags under your head or place your arm or leg through the handles. This makes it more difficult for it to be stolen.

Remember your manners while you are traveling. Be considerate of and courteous to those around you. Americans have a bad international reputation of being loud and obnoxious. When traveling with a group, this is an easy reputation to perpetuate because excitement levels are usually high. Try not to live up to this reputation.

Make a copy of your passport and put it in your luggage. If your luggage is lost, it will make identifying your luggage easier. If your passport is lost, you will have a copy of it until it is replaced.

Give important travel information to family members.

Bring any and all medications you must have. Use the original bottles. If there is a sizable amount of medications needed, it might be advisable to have a doctor’s letter with you, explaining that you have legitimate medical needs.

Take several $1 bills for small incidentals as you travel.

It is a good idea to pack a change of clothes and basic toiletry items in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed or lost.

PACKING TIPS

Take only the clothing and items you need. Wearing the same clothes during your trip is a small price to pay for the freedom you gain by packing lightly. Europeans wear the same clothing more than once per week and are not offended if you do too. Remember as you enter another culture, you are in the spotlight. Now is not the time to make an international fashion statement.

You may want to pack any liquid items in sealed bags. Luggage shifts and is under pressure. Bottles, even sealed tightly, can still leak.

Try to borrow rather than buy clothing if possible. Do not go into debt for the trip. If you are asked to wear items you do not own, check with a few friends.

If you buy new shoes, break them in before the trip. You will be a much happier team player if you do.

A small basic medical first aid kit is helpful for stomach upsets, small cuts and headaches.

Sometimes you may choose to leave some of your clothing behind in order for you to make room for souvenirs. Some clothing items are not available overseas or are of a lesser quality there. With that in mind, you may want to pack only those things you are willing to leave.